Thursday, August 29, 2013

Court Sets Out Issues And Schedule For Alaska Redistricting Court Challenges

In an order dated 28 August 2013, Superior Court Judge Michael P. McConahy said:


I.  Introduction

Overview of what's happened so far in the case, starting with last December's Supreme Court decision (though somehow 2013 instead of 2012 got past the proof readers).

II.  Consolidation

The Riley challenge and the Alaska Democratic Party challenge to the Redistricting Board's July 2013 Redistricting Proclamation Plan shall be consolidated into one case.

III.  Amicus Curiae

All the parties that filed amicus briefs either before the Superior court or the Alaska Supreme Court shall get copies of all orders of the case and are free to file pleadings though they may not initiate motion practice.  [I think that means they can only comment on the issues that have been raised and not raise new ones.]

IV.  Electronic Filing

Details for filing electronically.

[The points above are paraphrased. For Summary of Issues I've copied it as verbatim as my eyes and fingers allowed]

V.  Summary of Issues 


  1. Compactness issues in House Districts 3 and 5 
  2. Socio-economic issues due to the split of the University of Alaska-Fairbanks in House Districts 4 and 5
  3. Whether the higher deviations from the ideal district population in House Districts 1-5 are justified
  4. Compactness and contiguousness issues in Senate District B.
  5. Whether higher deviations from the ideal district population in Fairbanks Senate Districts are justified. 


  1. Socio-economic integration issues in House Districts 9 and 12 by combining areas outside the Mat-Su Borough with the Mat-Su Borough  
  2. Whether the plan affords proportional representation to voters residing inside and outside the Mat-Su Borough


  1. Socio-economic integration issues in House District 32 by combining areas outside the Kenai Peninsula Borough with the Kenai Peninsula Borough.
  2. Whether the plan affords proportional representation to voters residing inside and outside the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

Rural Alaska Districts

  1. Socio-economic integration issues in House Districts  40, 39, 37, and 6. 


  1. Whether the Board considered improper factors in deciding the truncation of senate terms. 

VI.  Briefing Schedule

  • The judge wrote that since legal standards for establishing house and senate districts have already been addressed previously, they won't be repeated now.  
  • "Therefore any party that objects to the 2013 proclamation plan as violative of the compactness and contiguity requirements of the Alaska Constitution must file a motion for summary judgment regarding all such concerns within 15 days of the date of the distribution of this order. [Which by my count comes to Sept. 12.] The Board shall have 10 days to file its opposition.  Replies, if any, are due 3 days thereafter. "
  • Socio-economic issues "may or may not be able to be decided on the merits" but "any party objecting to the proclamation plan as violative of the socio-economic requirements . . . must file a motion for summary judgment, supported by admissible evidence" in the same time frame.  And it must be in a separate motion.

VII. Scheduling

  • "It is the intent of this court to have all issues resolved within 90 days"
  • "If testimony is required the court anticipates setting a trial week on short notice"

So, What Does This All Mean? 

Administrative Issues

  • The Riley and Democratic Party challenges were consolidated into one case
  • Administratively, the judge has outlined the issues to be discussed - most of the issues raised by Riley and the Alaska Democratic Party.  
  • However,  the requests to appoint a master to draw the maps  wasn't mentioned.
  • Amicus can comment on the issues outlined but not bring up new ones
  • The parties have 15 days (Sept. 12 if that's calendar days and not working days) to support their claims.
  • The Board has 10 days to respond.
  • The Parties have 3 more to respond to the Board.
  • 90 days is the target to get everything to be done.  That should fall just before Thanksgiving Day.

Substantive Issues

I've covered the Fairbanks issues in some detail in these two posts:
The line  "Socio-economic issues may or may not be able to be decided on the merits" probably means that this is pretty much a judgment call.  Facts play a role, and there are some precedent standards - such as everyone in a borough boundary is considered to be socio-economically integrated" but there is no clear up or down test for this. 

I haven't even looked at Kena, Mat-Su, or the other  rural districts.  I'll try to get something up.
I have covered truncation (second link above) and I'm working on a post comparing the 2000 Board's truncation method and the current board's method.

In the meantime, you can read the Judge's full order below:

Also, there is a response from the Board to the two filings (Riley and Alaska Democrats) on the Board's website.  Most of the documents filed on this are also on the Board's website here.

Thanks to  EW.  

1 comment:

  1. The court needs to remove the current board from the process.

    Unless and until that is done,

    ...we can expect only more and more obstruction, obfuscation, all leading to more of the same continuing gerrymandering.

    Out with them, I say.

    Until this current board is dissolved, the public will suffer from more of the same continuing criminal malfeasance.


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